Pollster.com

August 22, 2010 - August 28, 2010

 

Your Grandma On Facebook 'Outliers'


John Sides finds better educated Republicans grew most in believing Obama is a Muslim; Jon Chait has more.

Gallup reports Muslims approve of Obama more than any religious group; Ben Smith says Obama is dropping among all religious groups; Charles Blow notes the largest drop is among Jews.

Frank Newport responds to Joe Biden's comments on the midterm elections.

Jeremy Jacobs and Josh Kraushaar discuss the American Action Forum House polls; Desmoinesdem claims evidence of a GOP skew.

Tom Jensen shares "brutal" numbers for Obama in swing states.

Doug Schoen thinks Obama should "pull a Clinton."

Joe Lenski notes Blanche Lincoln's predicted big loss in Arkansas could be historic.

A Sacramento Bee/Rasmussen poll shows increasing support for Tea Party Candidates.

Stefan Hankin advises on how to pick your pollster (via Matthews).

Pew Internet finds that social media use is growing among older adults.


SC: 52% Haley, 36% Sheheen (Rasmussen 8/25)

Topics: poll , South Carolina

Rasmussen
8/25/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

South Carolina

2010 Governor
52% Haley (R), 36% Sheheen (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Nikki Haley: 64 / 25
Vincent Sheheen: 44 / 35

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 39 / 60
Gov. Sanford: 47 / 51


LA: Oil Spill (PPP 8/21-22)

Topics: Louisiana , poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
8/21-22/10; 403 likely voters, 4.9% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

Louisiana

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 35 / 61 (
chart)
Gov. Jindal: 58 / 34 (chart)

Has the oil spill in the Gulf made you more or less supportive of offshore drilling, or has it not made a difference to you?
32% More supportive, 21% Less supportive, 48% No difference

Do you approve or disapprove of how _____ has handled the aftermath of the oil spill?
Gov. Jindal: 70% Approve, 20% Disapprove
Pres. Obama: 32% Approve, 61% Disapprove

Do you approve or disapprove of how George W. Bush handled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?
44% Approve, 47% Disapprove

Who do you think has done a better job in helping Louisiana to deal with crisis: George W. Bush or Barack Obama?
54% Bush, 33% Obama


AZ: 53% McCain, 31% Glassman (Rasmussen 8/25)

Topics: Arizona , poll

Rasmussen
8/25/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Arizona

2010 Senate
53% McCain (R), 31% Glassman (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
John McCain: 53 / 43
Rodney Glassman: 33 / 37

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 39 / 59
Gov. Brewer: 65 / 34


Bafumi, Erikson, and Wlezien: A Forecast of the 2010 House Election Outcome

Topics: 2010 Election , Election forecasting , election results , Generic House Vote

Joseph Bafumi is an assistant professor in the government department at Dartmouth College. Robert S. Erikson is a professor in the political science department and faculty fellow at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University. Christopher Wlezien is a professor in the political science department and faculty affiliate in the Institute for Public Affairs at Temple University.

How many House seats will the Republicans gain in 2010? To answer this question, we have run 1,000 simulations of the 2010 House elections. The simulations are based on information from past elections going back to 1946. Our methodology replicates that for our ultimately successful forecast of the 2006 midterm. Two weeks before Election Day in 2006, we posted a prediction that the Democrats would gain 32 seats and recapture the House majority. The Democrats gained 30 seats in 2006. Our current forecast for 2010 shows that the Republicans are likely to regain the House majority.

Our preliminary 2010 forecast will appear (with other forecasts by political scientists) in the October issue of PS: Political Science. By our reckoning, the most likely scenario is a
Republican majority in the neighborhood of 229 seats versus 206 for the Democrats for a 50 seat loss for the Democrats. Taking into account the uncertainty in our model, the Republicans have a 79% chance of winning the House.

The model has two steps. Step 1 predicts the midterm vote division from only two variables, the generic poll result and the party of the president. With this estimate of the partisan tide in place, step 2 forecasts the winners of 435 House races using separate statistical models for open seats and races with incumbent candidates. At each step, the forecast takes into account uncertainty about the inputs.

First, we simulate 1000 separate outcomes of the national vote. The pooled generic polls
conducted 121 to 180 days in advance of the 2010 election show a very close division of 49.1% Democratic and 50.9% Republican. But a near tie in the polls in mid-summer projects to a significant vote plurality for the Republicans in November, close to a 53%-47% split. This prediction is not due to any bias in the polls, but rather stems from the electorate's tendency in past midterm cycles to gravitate further toward the "out" party over the election year--ultimately gaining about two extra points beyond what summer polls would otherwise show.

The national vote only tells us part of the story, and we still need to determine how it would translate into seats. For each of the 1000 simulated values of the national vote, we simulate the outcome in 435 congressional districts. Open seats and incumbent seats are treated separately. Open seat outcomes are estimated based on the simulated national vote swing plus the 2008 presidential vote in that district. Outcomes with the incumbent on the ballot are estimated based on the simulated national swing plus the incumbent's vote margin in 2008 and whether the incumbent is running as a freshman. The weight that these variables are given in predicting the final outcome depends on their explanatory power in past elections. Full details are presented in our forthcoming PS paper.

To sum up, first, we generated 1,000 simulations of the national vote. Then, we applied each of the 1,000 simulated national outcomes to each congressional district, noting the party of the "winner." For each of the 1,000 simulated outcomes of the national vote, we project the partisan division of the 435 congressional districts.

The figure below displays the range of simulated results. As can be seen from the predominance of red bars, the Republicans win the majority of seats in 79% of the trials. On average, the Republicans win 229 seats, 23 more than the Democrats and 11 more than the 218 needed for a majority. However, the simulations yield considerable variation, with a 95% confidence interval of 176 to 236 Republican seats.

This prediction comes with important caveats. Applying our model to 2010 assumes that the forces at work in 2010 are unchanged from past midterm elections. However, we should be wary of the possibility that the underlying model of the national vote works differently in 2010 or is influenced by variables we have not taken into account. Because the 2010 campaign started to heat up earlier than usual, the usual tilt toward the out party may already be complete, with no further drift to the Republicans. It is also uncertain how voters will react to the tea-party movement as the public face of the Republican Party.

The key will be to follow the generic polls from now to November. If the polls stay close, the Democrats have a decent chance to hold the House. But if the polls follow the past pattern of moving toward the "out" party and move further toward the Republicans--even by a little--the Republicans should be heavily favored.


NM: 51% Martinez, 44% Denish (Rasmussen 8/24)

Topics: New Mexico , poll

Rasmussen
8/24/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

New Mexico

2010 Governor
51% Martinez (R), 44% Denish (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Susana Martinez: 55 / 40
Diane Denish: 53 / 42

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 57 / 43
Gov. Richardson: 40 / 57


WI: 2010 Governor (Rasmussen 8/24)

Topics: poll , Wisconsin

Rasmussen
8/24/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Wisconsin

2010 Governor
48% Neumann (R), 44% Barrett (D) (chart)
47% Walker (R), 44% Barrett (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Mark Neumann: 54 / 34
Scott Walker: 55 / 36
Tom Barrett: 45 / 47


WI: 2010 Governor (Rasmussen 8/24)

Topics: poll , Wisconsin

Rasmussen
8/24/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Wisconsin

2010 Governor
48% Neumann (R), 44% Barrett (D) (chart)
47% Walker (R), 44% Barrett (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Mark Neumann: 54 / 34
Scott Walker: 55 / 36
Tom Barrett: 45 / 47


FL: 45% Scott, 42% Sink (Rasmussen 8/25)

Topics: Florida , poll

Rasmussen
8/25/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Florida

2010 Governor
45% Scott (R), 42% Sink (D), 4% Chiles (i) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Alex Sink: 50 / 38
Rick Scott: 45 / 46
Bud Chiles: 30 / 36

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 46 / 53 (chart)
Gov. Crist: 50 / 48 (chart)


MI: 51% Snyder, 29% Bernero (EPIC-MRA 8/21-23)

Topics: Michigan , poll

EPIC-MRA / Detroit Free Press
8/21-23/10; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(EPIC-MRA release)

Michigan

2010 Governor
51% Snyder (R), 29% Bernero (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 44 / 49
Jennifer Granholm: 32 / 63
Virg Bernero: 22 / 27
Rick Snyder: 48 / 12


NV: 45% Reid, 44% Angle (LVRJ 8/23-25)

Topics: Nevada , poll

Mason-Dixon / Las Vegas Review Journal
8/23-25/10; 625 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Mason-Dixon release)

Nevada

2010 SenatE
45% Reid (D), 44% Angle (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Harry Reid: 39 / 52 (chart)
Sharron Angle: 32 / 43


MO: 49% Blunt, 48% Carnahan (MSU 8/7-22)

Topics: Missouri , poll

Missouri State University for KY3
8/7-22/10; 785 registered voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(KY3 release)

Missouri

2010 Senate
49% Blunt, 48% Carnahan (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 47 / 49 (chart)
Gov. Nixon: 59 / 24 (chart)


US: National Survey (CBS 8/20-24)

Topics: national , poll

CBS News
8/20-24/10; 1082 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CBS News release)

National

Obama Job Approval
48% Approve, 44% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 79 / 17 (chart)
Reps: 17 / 78 (chart)
Inds: 42 / 45 (chart)
Economy: 44 / 48 (chart)
Afghanistan: 43 / 39
Iraq: 52 / 37
Terrorism: 51 / 37

Job of Congress
21% Approve, 71% Disapprove (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Michelle Obama: 45 / 11
Sarah Palin: 23 / 40 (chart)

Do they have a vision of where they want to lead the country
Barack Obama: 77% yes, 19% no
Republicans in Congress: 54% yes, 40% no

As you may know, under current law, all children born in the U.S. are automatically
U.S. citizens. Do you think that the law should be kept as is, or should the law be
changed so that children if illegal immigrants born in the U.S. do not automatically
become citizens?

49% keep law, 47% change law

Illegal Immigration as a problem
61% very serious, 27% somewhat serious, 8% not too serious, 3% not at all serious

Gay Couples should be allowed
40% legally marry, 30% enter civil unions (not marriage), 25% no legal recognition

Gays allowed to openly serve in the military
64% favor, 28% oppose

Abortion should be
36% generally available, 39% available with limits, 23% not permitted at all

2001 Tax Cuts on those making $250,000 or more
36% make permanent, 56% allow to expire

Did America do the right thing in taking military action against Iraq?
37% did the right thing, 59% should have stayed out

Did America succeed in accomplishing its objectives in Iraq?
41% succeeded, 51% not succeeded

Is America doing the right thing by fighting in Afghanistan right now?
43% right thing, 48% should not be involved

Party ID
33% Democrat, 26% Republican, 40% independent (chart)


Meek Will Likely Gain In Florida, But How Much?

Topics: 2010 , Charlie Crist , Florida , Kendrick Meek , Marco Rubio

So what's next in the Florida Senate race? Can Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek convince Florida Democrats to abandon Republican-turned-independent Governor Charlie Crist? And does Crist have a path to victory?

The current polling snapshot can help us understand the challenges that each face, but perhaps more than in any other Senate race, the horse race polling numbers here are potentially volatile and subject to change. This race is definitely one to watch.

The tabulations that pollsters have produced by party are, for now, the most important. I averaged the vote-by-party results reported for the general election by four pollsters, Ipsos Public Affairs, Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Public Policy Polling (PPP) and Quinnipiac University (my tabulations do not include results from the Rasmussen poll conducted last night and released earlier today, mostly because they did not provide complete results by party for non-subscribers, but the numbers they reported are generally consistent with those below).

2010-08-26-Blumenthal-FLSenatebyparty.png

The by-party-numbers show that Meek faces a huge challenge: Crist leads Meek narrowly among Democrats (42% to 37%), while Crist wins a greater share of the vote among Democrats (42%) than among Republicans (20%). Meanwhile, Meek trails Rubio among independents by 22 points (9% to 31%)

The numbers also demonstrate the difficulty Crist will have growing his current support (and keep in mind that Crist trailed Rubio narrowly overall on three of the four surveys). Self-identified independents are a relatively small portion of the likely Florida electorate. In the four polls I looked at 18% of the voters, on average, identified as independent, and Crist is already winning 42% of their support. Thus, even if he can somehow boost his support among independents to 60%, it would add just 3 percentage points to his overall total.

Meanwhile, Meek's obvious strategy is to win over Democrats, fast, and his campaign is wasting no time touting Meek as "the only real Democrat" and reminding reporters of the many conservatives stands Crist took until days before abandoning the Republicans earlier this year. And that strategy also works for Marco Rubio, who joined Meek in pounding Crist this week for not saying who he plans to vote for for majority leader.

All of this, as Politico's Martin and Burns put it, "leaves Crist in the position of having to perform Houdini-like marvels of contortion to find a large enough space in the political middle to keep his independent bid on track."

Not surprisingly, both the Meek and Rubio campaigns agree that "political gravity" will work in Meek's favor. But can Meek really rally from a distant third to challenge Rubio? In a public memo, Meek campaign manager Abe Dyk argues that he can:

With Republicans coalescing around a Tea Party candidate, and Democrats with Kendrick, the math does not exist to elect Charlie Crist. With an expected turnout of 43% Democrats and 40% Republicans, Kendrick needs to win 75% of registered Democrats and just 17% of the registered Independent vote to secure 35% of the vote total. 35%-40% is all that is needed to win in a three-way race.

That math strikes me as a bit optimistic, first in assuming that Democratic voters will outnumber Republicans in Florida this year,** and second in assuming that a candidate can win with less than 40% of the vote while also assuming that Crist's support among Democrats will collapse. But that's mostly quibbling: To run even with Rubio, Meek will need to close the gap among independents and win a percentage of Democrats that is at least as high as Rubio's percentage among Republicans. So whether Meek's goal among Democrats is 75% or 80%, it's a tall order. Can Meek really double his support among Democrats between now and November?

To get a better handle on that question I asked two of the Florida pollsters to tabulate their results among a crucial subgroup: The self-identified Democrats in their surveys that support Crist. The resulting subgroups of "Crist Democrats" are relatively small -- just 106 interviews on the Ipsos survey and 147 on the Quinnipiac poll, yielding margins of error of +/- 10% and +/- 8% respectively -- but the results are largely consistent. They help explain Crist's current appeal among Democrats, but also why he will have trouble maintaining that support.

For example, the Crist Democrats overwhelmingly approve of Barack Obama's performance as president (79% on the Ipsos survey and 80% on Quinnipiac), but not surprisingly, they are even more approving of Crist as governor (90% on the Ipsos survey and 88% on Quinnipiac).

There are also hopeful signs for Meek: Quinnipiac finds that nearly half of the Crist Democrats (45%) say they haven't heard enough about Meek to rate him, and only 20% report an unfavorable rating. Quinnipiac finds that half of the Crist Democrats are self-described liberals (46%), and Ipsos finds 36% "strongly" identify with the Democratic party. Quinnipiac finds that nearly a quarter (23%) are African American.

So collectively these results suggest that Meek has much room to grow, and that "political gravity" is poised to work in his favor. On the other hand, they also suggest that some Democrats will stick with Crist no matter what. What is Crist's floor of support among Democrats? We will have to wait and see.

One thing is certain: Crist's independent candidacy will make voter decisions more complicated than in other races and, for that reason, potentially far more volatile. Voter preferences could shift, and fast, at any point this fall (including the final week). As such, this is a race worth watching.

**Those who want to go deeper into the wonky weeds should know that Dyk's memo references actual party registration, while poll respondents may sometimes report something different. More specifically, while Mason-Dixon asks explicitly about party registration, Quinnipiac and Ipsos use a more traditional party identification question that asks respondents what they "consider" themselves and PPP asks respondents simply whether they "are" Democrats, Republicans or independents. So the numbers I'm reporting are probably slightly different than what Dyk is using.

[Cross-posted to the Huffington Post].


LA: Republican Primary (PPP 8/21-22)

Topics: Louisiana , poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
8/21-22/10; 358 likely Republican primary voters, 5.2% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

Louisiana

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
81% Vitter, 5% Traylor, 4% Accardo

2012 President: Republican Primary
25% Gingrich, 24% Huckabee, 20% Palin, 16% Romney, 7% Paul


UT: 60% Herbert, 29% Corroon (Rasmussen 8/23)

Topics: poll , Utah

Rasmussen
8/23/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Utah

2010 Governor
60% Herbert (R), 29% Corroon (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Gary Herbert: 69 / 25
Peter Corroon: 51 / 33

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 43 / 67
Gov. Herbert: 67 / 30


FL: 40% Rubio, 30% Crist, 21% Meek (Rasmussen 8/25)

Topics: Florida , poll

Rasmussen
8/25/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Florida

2010 Senate
40% Rubio (R), 30% Crist (i), 21% Meek (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Charlie Crist: 56 / 42 (chart)
Kendrick Meek: 41 / 47
Marco Rubio: 51 / 41

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 46 / 55 (chart)
Gov. Crist: 52 / 46 (chart)


PA: 40% Toomey, 31% Sestak (F&M 8/16-23)

Topics: Pennsylvania , poll

Franklin and Marshall
8/16-23/10; 485 regsitered voters, 4.45 margin of error
377 likely voters, 5.4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(F&M release)

Pennsylvania

2010 Senate
Registered voters: 31% Toomey, 28% Sestak
Likely voters: 40% Toomey, 31% Sestak (chart)

2010 Governor
Registered voters: 29% Corbett, 28% Onorato
Likely voters: 38% Corbett, 27% Onorato (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable (among registered voters)
Joe Sestak: 23 / 25
Pat Toomey: 25 / 20
Tom Corbett: 27 / 15
Dan Onorato: 22 / 11


CA: 51% Whitman, 43% Brown (Rasmussen 8/24)

Topics: California , poll

Rasmussen
8/24/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

California

2010 Governor
51% Whitman (R), 43% Brown (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Meg Whitman: 49 / 44
Jerry Brown: 46 / 51

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 55 / 43 (chart)
Gov. Schwarsenegger: 26 / 69 (chart)


New Senators 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Joe Lenski notes that 2010 will bring more new senators (at least 15) than any election since 1980.

Nate Silver's new Senate model shows Democrats losing 6-7 seats; Megan McArdle thinks it could be too conservative.

Alexander Burns declares robo-polling the winner in Florida's primary.

Peter J. Woolley and Dan Cassino write up their experiment on polling on independent Chris Daggett in NJ.

Survey Practice publishes its August issue.


Why Were Polls Off in Florida?

Topics: 2010 , Bill McCollum , Florida , Poll Accuracy , Rick Scott

Here's any easy bet to win today in Washington (or anywhere else where true political junkies gather): Where did polling miss the mark most yesterday, in Florida's Republican primary for Governor or Florida's Democratic primary for Senate?

Judging by the tweets I've seen (and my own snap judgment), most of you may be thinking the polls were most off in the Governor's race, where most of the final polls showed Bill McCollum leading. If so, you'd be wrong. The three polls fielded in the last week on the Democratic Senate contest understated Kendrick Meek's margin by an average of 11 percentage points. The three final week polls on the Republican Governor's underestimated Rick Scott's margin by an average of just 5 points (the absolute value of the errors was 7.7; all of these numbers are based on the unofficial count with all precincts reporting).

Thus, we have another example of the pre-election pollster's paradox: The errors that get noticed are those that are just wrong enough to give everyone the wrong impression about the likely winner.

But let's focus on the Republican primary for Governor, for now, since theories are flying about why some polls missed Scott's looming victory. I asked our Pollster.com colleague, University of Wisconsin Professor Charles Franklin, to run one of his patented "bullseye" polling error charts. The chart below displays each poll as a dot, with the vertical axis representing Scott's percentage, the horizontal axis representing McCollum's percentage, and the center of the bullseye representing the actual result.

In this case, two pollsters -- Public Policy Polling (PPP) and Sunshine State News/VSS/Susquehanna Polling and Research -- land in the center ring of the bullseye. Their final surveys yielded the smallest undecided percentages and were also the only two to show Scott ahead.

Pollsters have long debated how to handle the undecided category in measuring poll error. Should we allocate the undecided among the candidates and, if so, how? This chart sidesteps that debate, although keep in mind that polls that get the margin exactly right will fall in the lower left quadrant along an unplotted diagonal line from the center of the bullseye to the lower left corner.

So, aside from getting fewer undecided, why did the PPP and Susquehanna polls get closer to the final result?

One theory, floated by our intern Harry Enten (see the 9:01 p.m. entry in last night's live blog), is that the polls by PPP and Susquehanna used an automated, recorded-voice methodology and drew their random samples from the official list of registered voters. Harry argues that both methods provide a more accurate identification of truly likely voters: The registered voter list because it identifies actual voters (and can make use of their actual history of past voting) and the automated method because voters are theoretically more willing to provide honest answers about their vote intent to a machine rather than a live interviewer.

I have long speculated that automated surveys are better at selecting truly likely voters in especially low turnout races, on the theory that they can identify likely voters more accurately and are better able to interview a narrower slice of the electorate at reasonable cost. In this case, however, PPP's Tom Jensen speculates that their survey was closer to the final result because their they "used a loose screen" in selecting likely voters and thus "picked up more non-typical voters who went for Scott." Yesterday's Republican turnout (1.28 million voters) was slightly larger than the turnout in the August Republican primary for Senate in 2004 (1.16 million) and much larger that the Republican Gubernatorial primary in 2006 (0.96 million).

Another intriguing theory concerns the surprising 10% of the vote received by Mike McCalister, a third Republican candidate for Governor. Politico's Jon Martin observed, via Twitter, that McAlister's showing was perhaps "the biggest surprise of the night" because he aired no television ads, did not appear in the debates and got little media attention. Republican media consultant Mike Murphy suggests, also via Twitter, that some voters may have been confused by the similarity in the names: "McCollum + McCalister = McConfused."

What complicates this issue further is that only one pollster -- Mason Dixon -- offered McCalister as a choice on their vote question, and they showed him getting only 4% to 45% for McCollum. PPP and Quinnipiac University offered only Scott and McCollum as choices (although Quinnipiac recorded 4% who named "someone else" as their choice). So what may have happened is that some Republicans headed to the polls intending to vote for McCollum, but accidentally chose a similar looking name by mistake.

Whatever the explanation, we should always remember that polling in primary elections is more prone to mishaps than polling in general elections. Learning that first lesson, however, is the easy part. Anticipating which polls will be right, and even explaining why they differ after the fact, is much harder.


LA: 51% Vitter, 41% Melancon (PPP 8/21-22)

Topics: Louisiana , poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
8/21-22/10; 403 likely voters, 4.9% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

Louisiana

2010 Senate
51% Vitter (R), 41% Melancon (D) (chart)
40% Melancon (D), 39% Traylor (R)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 35 / 61 (chart)
Sen. Landrieu: 41 / 53 (chart)
Sen. Vitter: 53 / 41 (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Charlie Melancon: 26 / 48
Chet Traylor: 11 / 25


HI: 2010 Governor (Star-Advertiser 8/10)

Topics: Hawaii , poll

Ward Research for Honolulu Star-Advertiser / Hawaii News Now
8/10/10; 604 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Star-Advertiser story)

Hawaii

2010 Governor
54% Hanneman (D), 37% Aiona (R)
53% Abercrombie (D), 41% Aiona (R)


US: Generic Ballot (Harris 8/9-16)

Topics: National , poll

Harris Interactive
8/9-16/10; 2,775 adults
Mode: Internet
(Harris release)

National

2010 CongressL Generic Ballot
345 Democrat, 33% Republican (chart)

Congressional Job Rating
2% Excellent, 14% Pretty Good, 35% Only Fair, 49% Poor


CA: 49% Boxer, 44% Fiorina (Rasmussen 8/24)

Topics: California , poll

Rasmussen
8/24/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

California

2010 Senate
49% Boxer (D), 44% Fiorina (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Barbara Boxer: 46 / 52 (chart)
Carly Fiorina: 46 / 42

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 55 / 43 (chart)
Gov. Schwarzenegger: 26 / 69 (chart)


WI: 47% Johnson, 46% Feingold (Rasmussen 8/24)

Topics: poll , Wisconsin

Rasmussen
8/24/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Wisconsin

2010 Senate
47% Johnson (R), 46% Feingold (D) (chart)
47% Feingold (D), 40% Westlake (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Russ Feingold: 53 / 44 (chart)
Jake Westlake: 38 / 33
Ron Johnson: 53 / 36

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 48 / 51 (chart)
Gov. Doyle: 43 / 56 (chart)


CO: 49% Buck, 40% Bennet (Ipsos 8/20-22)

Topics: Colorado , poll

Ipsos/Reuters
8/2022/10; 601 registered voters, 4% margin of error
453 likely voters, 4.6% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Ipsos release)

Colorado

2010 Senate
49% Buck (R), 40% Bennet (D) (chart)

2010 Governor
41% Hickenlooper (D), 33% Maes (R), 16% Tancredo (AC)
45% Maes (R), 45% Hickenlooper (D)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov Ritter: 46 / 50 (chart)


FL: 41% Sink, 34% Scott, 8% Chiles (PPP 8/21-22)

Topics: Florida , poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
8/21-22/10; 567 likely voters, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

Florida

2010 Governor
41% Sink (D), 34% Scott (R), 8% Chiles (i) (chart)
39% Sink (D), 31% McCollum (R), 12% Chiles (i)* (chart)

*Poll taken before primary won by Rick Scott

Favorable / Unfavorable
Bud Chiles: 12 / 16
Bill McCollum: 25 / 54
Rick Scott: 28 / 49
Alex Sink: 35 / 23


MD: 47% O'Malley, 41% Ehrlich (OpinionWorks 8/13-18)

Topics: Maryland , poll

Center Maryland / OpinionWorks
8/13-18/10; 551 likely voters, 4.2% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Center Maryland article)

Maryland

2010 Governor
47% O'Malley (D), 41% Ehrlich (R) (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. O'Malley: 49 / 39


OR: 56% Wyden, 36% Huffman (Rasmussen 8/22)

Topics: Oregon , poll

Rasmussen
8/22/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Oregon

2010 Senate
56% Wyden (D), 36% Huffman (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Jim Huffman: 36 / 30
Ron wyden: 60 / 35

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 53 / 47
Gov. Kulongoski: 44 / 56


IL: 45% Kirk, 45% Giannoulias (Rasmussen 8/23)

Topics: Illinois , poll

Rasmussen
8/23/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Illinois

2010 Senate
45% Kirk (R), 45% Giannoulias (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Mark Kirk: 48 / 40
Alexi Giannoulias: 41 / 47

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 53 / 47
Gov. Quinn: 39 / 60


Jersey Hates Jersey Shore 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Clifford Young and Julia Clark take a look at Republicans' enthusiasm advantage.

Marc Ambinder wonders if a Republican House could be an advantage for Obama.

Pew finds Americans are conflicted over Islam and the mosque near Ground Zero.

John Sides answers Rasmussen on whether Americans want to govern themselves.

Frank Newport shares polling data on embryonic stem cell research.

Tom Jensen sees an increase in support for offshore drilling.

Quinnipiac finds New Jersey residents really don't like Jersey Shore.


J.D. Hayworth's Poll Bluster: Anything To It?

Topics: 2010 , Arizona , J.D. Hayworth , John McCain , Primary elections

If nothing else, I have to give arch-conservative, former Congressman J.D. Hayworth credit for doggedly insisting, despite all available evidence, that he is "poised to pull one of the greatest upsets in political history" in Tuesday's Arizona Senate primary. After all, the most recent automated Rasmussen poll showed him trailing Sen. John McCain by twenty points (54% to 34%), and every public poll conducted in this race has shown McCain leading, including eight fielded since March that had McCain ahead by margins of between 5 and 45 percentage points.

This morning, Hayworth even offered NBC's Chuck Todd a theory for why the polls might be wrong:

Here's the limitation of public opinion polls. They cannot accurately gauge the turnout. Conservatives are motivated to go cast a vote for me and retire John McCain. Also on the ballot, the governor's race on the Republican side is devoid of any suspense. Several candidates dropped out. Governor Brewer has a clear march back to the nomination [and] that will suppress the moderate turnout.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Well, maybe. We'll know the answer soon enough.

But whatever the outcome, Hayworth does have a point about one thing: Pollsters often have a hard time identifying true likely voters in low turnout primary elections. That's one reason why primary polls tend to produce bigger errors compared to the actual results than general election polls.

Also, the most recent survey in this race, the Rasmussen result I cited above, is now five weeks old. No other public polls have been conducted since July.

So as tempting as those Hayworth-as-Iraqi-Information-Minister jokes may be, we should probably hold off snickering until all the votes are counted.


IL: 49% Brady (R), 41% Quinn (D) (Rasmussen 8/23)

Topics: Illinois , poll

Rasmussen
8/23/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Illinois

2010 Governor
49% Brady (R), 41% Quinn (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Pat Quinn: 42 / 55
Bill Brady: 53 / 35

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Quinn: 39 / 60


US: National Survey (Ipsos/Reuters 8/19-22)

Topics: National , poll

Ipsos / Reuters
8/19-22/10; 1,063 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Ipsos release)

National

State of the Country
31% Right Direction, 62% Wrong Track (chart)

Obama Job Approval
45% Approve, 52% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 74 / 24 (chart)
Inds: 37 / 53 (chart)
Reps: 11 / 86 (chart)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
All adults: 45% Democrat, 43% Republican
Registered voters (N=950): 46% Republican, 45% Democratic (chart)

Party ID
Initial: 33% Democrat, 22% Republican, 45% independent (chart)
With leaners: 48% Democrat, 40% Republican, 12% independent


MO: 54% Blunt, 41% Carnahan (Rasmussen 8/23)

Topics: Missouri , poll

Rasmussen
8/23/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Missouri

2010 Senate
54% Blunt (R), 41% Carnahan (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Roy Blunt: 57 / 37
Robin Carnahan: 42 / 53

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 41 / 58 (chart)
Gov. Nixon: 53 / 43 (chart)


FL: 2010 Senate (PPP 8/21-22)

Topics: Florida , poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
8/21-22/10; 567 likely voters, 4.15 margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

Florida

2010 Senate
37% Rubio (R), 36% Crist (i), 13% Greene (D), 4% Snitker (L) (chart)
40% Rubio (R), 32% Crist (i), 17% Meek (D), 3% Snitker (L) (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Crist: 42 / 44 (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Jeff Greene: 19 / 40
Kendirck Meek: 25 / 35
Marco Rubio: 40 / 37
Alex Snitker: 15 / 22


US: National Survey (Zogby 8/18-23)

Topics: National , poll

Zogby
8/18-23/10; 8,509 likely voters, 1.1% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(Zogby release)

National

Obama Job Approval
46% Approve, 53% Disapprove (chart)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
43% Republican, 41% Democrat (chart)

State of the Country
35% Right Direction, 56% Wrong Track (chart)

Congressional Job Approval
23% Approve, 75% Disapprove (chart)


OR: 49% Dudley, 45% Kitzhaber (Rasmussen 8/22)

Topics: Oregon , poll

Rasmussen
8/22/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Oregon

2010 Governor
49% Dudley (R), 45% Kitzhaber (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Chris Dudley: 59 / 30
John Kitzhaber: 50 / 44

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 53 / 47
Gov. Kulongoski: 44 / 56


Pundits blame the victims on Obama Muslim myth

Topics: Barack Obama , misperception , Muslim , myth

Last week, a Pew Research Center poll was released that showed an increase in the proportion of Americans who falsely believe President Obama is a Muslim.

The conversation since then has largely focused on the failings of the public. Slate's Jack Shafer, for instance, said adherents of the Muslim myth are "imagining things" and pointed to a poll finding that "18 percent of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth":

Don't these people read newspapers or watch TV? As a matter of fact, many do. According to the poll, 60 percent (PDF) of those who believe Obama is a Muslim also told the pollsters that they learned it from the media. Seeing as I can recall no major or minor media report that presented proof that would convince any sentient creature over the age of 10 that Obama is a Muslim, I'm starting to feel better. The 18 percenters are imagining things...

I'd be more upset about the Pew poll if a Gallup Poll hadn't also reported that 18 percent of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth or that only 18 percent of Americans believe all or most of what is published in the New York Times. We can count on stupidity, willful ignorance, and intellectual sloth to plague us 100 percent of the time. All we can do is fight the darkness with light.

Similarly, Matthew Yglesias described the misperception as one of the "odd American beliefs about politics" and noted that "lots of Americans believe lots of weird stuff" such as ESP, haunted houses, astrology, and ghosts.

Other commentators have blamed Obama himself for failing to refute the myth. The Washington Examiner's Byron York, for instance, claimed (absurdly) that "Obama and his aides might also blame themselves for the way they've handled the Muslim issue over the years" such as saying that his father was a Muslim in 1985 and speaking about his family background during a speech in Cairo. Similarly, CNN's Candy Crowley and Time's Amy Sullivan both faulted Obama for not making more public visits to church. However, neither Ronald Reagan nor George W. Bush regularly attended church services (see here and here), and no one accused them of being Muslims.*

But while pundits have been quick to blame Obama and the public, very few commentators have noted the role played by the media and political elites in misleading the public about Obama's religious beliefs. Slate's Dave Weigel came the closest, writing that "At some point it became acceptable to question Obama's American-ness, which naturally begged the question of whether he was a secret Muslim... and the WorldNetDailys, tabloids, and Drudge Reports of the world were ready to keep begging that question."

It's worth examining the scope of this effort, which has been ongoing since Obama's presidential campaign. Here's a sample from a 2009 post:

Frank Gaffney, the right-wing apparatchik last seen suggesting that President Obama's apparent bow to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was "code" telling "our Muslim enemies that you are willing to submit to them," has written an entire column for the Washington Times arguing that "there is mounting evidence that the president not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself" (via MM). He bases this false conclusion upon a bizarre and elaborate exegesis of Obama's Cairo speech that would embarrass even the most paranoid conspiracy theorist.

We've repeatedly seen members of the press and political figures promoting this myth (or claims that reinforce it) over the last few years. Just in the last week, Media Matters has documented Fox Nation falsely claiming "Obama Says U.S. Is a 'Muslim Country,'" Fox News running a graphic about Obama titled "Islam or Isn't He?", former Washington Times editor Wes Pruden writing that Obama found "his 'inner Muslim'" in Cairo, and Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb asking "if the president hasn't been concealing some greater fluency with the language of the Koran."

Gaffney later made the bizarre claim that the alleged resemblance of the Missile Defense Agency's new logo to the Islamic crescent and star proved that Obama was trying to submit the United States to sharia law (he subsequently retracted the claim).

More recently, the Washington Times -- led by columnist Jeffrey Kuhner -- has engaged in a months-long propaganda campaign to suggest Obama is a Muslim complete with misleading graphics:

One of the media outlets pushing this misconception is the Washington Times, whose Jeffrey Kuhner famously published the false claim that Obama attended a madrassa as a child. The Times has even utilized images to deliver the message to readers at a glance. For instance:

In a July 8 Washington Times column, Jeffrey Kuhner wrote that "Culturally, [Obama] is America's first Muslim president." The following illustration accompanies the piece:

In an August 16 Washington Times analysis, Wesley Pruden speculated that Obama publicly addressed the controversy surrounding the Islamic community center in New York because "he just can't resist throwing (non-alcoholic) wine and roses at Muslims and rotten eggs at Americans who cling to the Judeo-Christian God and guns." The following photo of Obama dressed in clothing worn by nomadic people in Somalia accompanies the piece:

(The photo was reportedly taken during Obama's 2006 trip to Africa and pushed by the Drudge Report during the presidential primary. According to the head of the BBC's Somali service, the clothing has "no religious significance to it whatsoever.")

In an August 17 Washington Times column, Frank Gaffney wrote: "As he hosted the Ramadan fast-breaking dinner at the White House on Friday, Mr. Obama showed his true colors on Shariah. ... Shariah is about power, not faith, and no amount of Obama subsidies, solidarity or spin on behalf of that agenda will persuade the American people to allow the so-called "tradition of Islam" to supplant our civil liberties, form of government and way of life." The following illustration accompanies the piece:

In an August 19 Washington Times  column, Kuhner wrote that Obama is "a cultural Muslim who is promoting an anti-American, pro-Islamic agenda." The following illustration accompanies the piece:

In an August 19 Washington Times column, Robert Knight wrote: "The proposed Manhattan mosque is a keg o' dynamite. It has blown up apathetic Americans' benign illusions about Mr. Obama: 'They're going to build what? Where? And he's OK with that?'" Knight also quoted and criticized Obama's statement that "Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been part of America." The following illustration accompanies the piece:

The caption under the illustration states: "Obama's Crescent House"

The Washington Times also tried this tack against Obama's second Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, who Gaffney accused of "Courting Shariah."

Finally, the Washington Times published an editorial last Friday full of innuendo about Obama's religion:

Rumors of Mr. Obama's purported Muslim identity spread in January of 2007 and were tied to Hillary Rodham Clinton operatives, who denied responsibility. The Obama camp responded that "Barack Obama is not and has never been a Muslim. Obama never prayed in a mosque. He has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim and is a committed Christian who attends [The Rev. Jeremiah Wright's] United Church of Christ." That seemed definitive.

But in a February 2008 interview with the New York Times, Mr. Obama said the Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, is "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset." He then recited it, "with a first-class [Arabic] accent." The opening of the Adhan contains the Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith, proclaiming, "There is no god but God and Muhammad is the prophet of God." Stating this before two Muslims is the traditional requirement for joining the Islamic faith.

Adding fuel to the fire is Mr. Obama's family heritage: born of a Muslim father and raised by a Muslim stepfather. Under Shariah law, having a Muslim father makes one a Muslim, though this custom has no legal standing in the United States.

In a September 2008 interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Mr. Obama said, "John McCain has not discussed my Muslim faith," a comment which Mr. Obama's partisans say was taken out of context. In July 2008, he admitted to People Magazine he and his wife don't give Christmas presents to their children. There is also the president's full name, Barack Hussein Obama, which as the Associated Press gently put it, "sounds Muslim to many." In fact, the name "Barack" derives from the Arabic word for "blessing" and is not necessarily Islamic, but when paired with "Hussein," which refers to Muhammad's grandson, acts as an adjective.

Suspicions were raised by Obama presidential policies, such as taking a harder line on Israel, ordering that radical Islamic terrorists be referred to only as "violent extremists" and engaging in an unprecedented and obsequious outreach to Muslim countries. Mr. Obama's bowing to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, in April 2009, didn't help matters much.

These and other reasons are why perceptions that Mr. Obama is Muslim keep growing...

None of this confirms the president is a Muslim, but it keeps speculation running wild.

Given this history, there's simply no question that elites have played a role in fostering the misperception that Obama is Muslim. It's also worth noting that describing the myth as an "odd" belief like ESP or the sun revolving around the earth trivializes its political consequences. In reality, conservative and Republican elites have repeatedly leveraged the myth to suggest that Obama is a traitor or disloyal to the United States:

December 2006: Columnist Debbie Schlussel notes that Obama's father was a Muslim and asks "Where will his loyalties be?"

February 2008: Radio talk show host Bill Cunningham calls Obama "this Manchurian candidate" but says "I do not believe Barack Hussein Obama is a terrorist or a Manchurian candidate."

April 2008: During an apperance on Glenn Beck's show on CNN Headline News, Ann Coulter asks "Is Obama a Manchurian candidate to normal Americans who love their country? ... Or is he being the Manchurian candidate to the traitor wing of the Democratic Party?"

June 2008: Fox News host E.D. Hill asked whether a fist bump between Obama and his wife was "A terrorist fist jab?"

April 2009: Frank Gaffney claims on MSNBC that Obama's apparent bow to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was "code" telling "our Muslim enemies that you are willing to submit to them."

May 2009: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich alleges on "Fox News Sunday" that there is a "weird pattern" in which Obama administration officials were "prepared to take huge risks with Americans in order to defend terrorists" and suggests that the Obama administration was proposing "welfare" for terrorists. He then claims on "Meet the Press" that the Obama administration's "highest priority" is to "find some way to defend terrorists."

June 2009: Senator James Inhofe calls Obama's Cairo speech "un-American" and says "I just don't know whose side he's on."

August 2009: On the Lou Dobbs radio show, substitute host Tom Marr says "I have to believe that there is still an inner Muslim within this man that has some sense of sympathy towards the number one enemy of freedom and democracy in the world today, and that is Islamic terrorism."

September 2009: Gaffney says Obama is "pursuing [an agenda] that is indistinguishable in important respects from that of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose mission ladies and gentlemen, we know from a trial in Dallas last year, is to quote to destroy Western civilization from within by its own miserable hand." Conservative pundit Tammy Bruce says on Fox News that Obama has "some malevolence toward this country."

November 2009: Fox's Sean Hannity suggests that President Obama was somehow responsible for the Fort Hood shooting, stating that "our government apparently knew and did nothing" about "a terrorist act" and then asking "What does it say about Barack Obama and our government?"

January 2010: The New York Post publishes an editorial asking "Whose side is the Justice Department on: America's or the terrorists'? ... [T]he president and his administration also owe the American people an answer: Is the government's prosecutorial deck stacked in favor of the terrorists?" Former senator Fred Thompson also jokes that the US could win the war in Afghanistan if we "[j]ust send Obama over there to campaign for the Taliban."

February 2010: During a conference call with conservative bloggers, Senator Kit Bond (R-Mo.) accuses the Obama administration of having a "a terrorist protection policy" and conducting a "jihad to close Guantanamo."

August 2010: National Review's Andrew McCarthy publishes an entire book claiming that Obama is pursuing an agenda that will aid Islamic radicals. The dust jacket states that "the global Islamist movement's jihad ... has found the ideal partner in President Barack Obama, whose Islamist sympathies run deep." Commentary's Jennifer Rubin writes that Obama's "sympathies for the Muslim World take precedence over those, such as they are, for his fellow citizens" in a post criticizing Obama's statement on the proposed Muslim community center near Ground Zero.

Rather than faulting the public for the weaknesses of human psychology, we should identify the elites who deceive citizens with false information and hold them accountable for their role in fostering this myth. It's time to stop blaming the victims.

Update 8/24 9:09 PM: This Newsweek slideshow again takes the wrong approach. Titled "America the Ignorant: Silly Things We Believe About Witches, Obama and More," the magazine gently mocks the public for "oddball opinions" like misperceptions about Obama's religion while ignoring the role of elites in fostering the myth (though they do call out Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney for promoting false claims about "death panels" and Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, respectively).

Update 8/26 9:13 AM: Via Bob Somerby, this Fox News Sunday roundtable below is a classic example of pundits blaming Obama and the public for the myth while failing to identify the elites who have promoted it. Only the last speaker, Juan Williams, even mentions the fact that these misconceptions were fostered by many of Obama's critics:

WALLACE: And it's time now for our Sunday group, Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard; Nina Easton from Fortune magazine; Kevin Madden, a first-timer on the panel -- he's a Republican strategist who was Mitt Romney's spokesman during his run for president -- and Juan Williams from National Public Radio.

So, Bill Burton says Americans know the president is a committed Christian. But according to a couple of new polls, Steve Hayes, that's not so. And let's put them up on the screen.

A Pew poll taken before the president's comments about the mosque -- and this is before the president's comments about the mosque -- near Ground Zero shows 18 percent of Americans now believe he's Muslim. That's up from 12 percent when he ran for president.

And in a Time Magazine poll taken after his comments about the mosque, 24 percent believe he's Muslim. Only 47 percent think he's Christian. Steve, how do you explain this growing misperception of a sitting president?

HAYES: Well, I think we spend -- he spends a lot less time talking about his faith in public than George W. Bush, for instance. And he spends a lot of time -- an inordinate amount of time, I would say -- talking about extolling the virtues of Islam.

It's part of his strategy. It's his outreach to the Muslim world. He's focused on it. He's given major speeches about it. We haven't seen him give similar speeches extolling the virtues of Christianity or Judaism or something else. So I think people are making...

WALLACE: Well, in fairness... HAYES: ... a leap -- and it is a leap...

WALLACE: I mean, for instance, at one of the prayer services he talked about Jesus and about the resurrection. He hasn't been seen publicly going to church that often. But he has spoken about his faith.

HAYES: That's part of it. It's not that he hasn't spoken about it. It's that he hasn't given the high profile speeches like the one he gave in Cairo.

And he's spent a lot of time talking about conducting outreach to what he calls the Muslim world. I think people are reasoning from that, leaping from that, to a conclusion that's not warranted by the evidence, obviously.

WALLACE: Nina?

EASTON: Well, I think it predates his current outreach to the Muslim community. Nearly half of the people -- in September of '08, before the election, nearly half of Americans couldn't identify him as Christian.

He's got this odd background, this childhood where he was -- his father was Muslim -- his father who he didn't know, by the way, only spent a month with him. His father, who was Muslim, turned atheist. He's got a mother who was secular. He went to school in Indonesia. He has these ties to Kenya. So it's kind of a blur for people anyway.

During the campaign he spent a lot of time pushing back on that. He gave an interview to Newsweek and he talked about Jesus and he talked about prayer. And he -- they spent a lot of time talking about this.

They've made the decision now as a sitting president -- because of the Reverend Wright controversy, I think, he doesn't want to publicly go to church every Sunday somewhere. He doesn't want to disrupt services, is what he says.

But as a -- I think the effect of that is it leaves this confusion in people's minds, and they're able to -- see, the people who think he's Muslim are the people who tend to oppose him, so...

WALLACE: Well, I was going to get to that, Kevin.

How much of this has nothing to do with his background and -- or his father, and more to do with the fact that as opposition to his policies grows, that negative feelings about him personally also grow?

MADDEN: Well, I think that's one of the ways that you explain the trend line going in the wrong direction for the White House. But I do think that this is a lot more attributable to the way people get and retain information than it is sort of malevolent intentions by a lot of voters out there.

You know, we live in this world where there's a wealth of information. And where there's a wealth of information, there's a poverty of attention. So you have a lot of people out there...

WALLACE: Also a wealth of misinformation.

MADDEN: Correct. No, that's absolutely correct. And I think you have a lot of people who witness this debate and this discussion. And as they witness this debate and this discussion, it is the ideal breeding ground for a lot of misinformation.

So when you have folks out there -- and the interesting thing I found about the Pew poll was that 60 percent of the people said that they got their information from the media. And as we watch the media today, as we watched it this week, there is this very robust debate -- is why people thought he was a Muslim, was it true that he was, was it not true.

And because of that, people witnessed that debate and then they formed their own conclusions. And a lot of it are wrong conclusions that have to do on incorrect information.

WALLACE: Juan, I want you to weigh in on this, but also I want you to answer another question. How important is it for the president politically to set the record straight that he's a Christian?

WILLIAMS: Well, I don't think it's going to help him with people who are his critics, and I think that's largely where this is coming from.

I disagree. I think that this is an malevolent effort by people who are his critics to make him out to be the other in American life, that he's not really an American, he's some sort of Manchurian candidate. I mean, this...

WALLACE: But wait a minute. The Time Magazine poll shows that only 40 percent of all Americans -- this isn't Republicans. Forty- seven percent of all Americans think he's Christian. So there's a pretty widespread feeling.

WILLIAMS: Yeah. It's mostly Republicans. I'm telling you...

(UNKNOWN): There are a lot of Democrats in there as well.

EASTON: Yeah, there's a lot of Democrats...

(UNKNOWN): There are a lot of Democrats.

WILLIAMS: To me, it's overwhelmingly coming from the critics. I think it's the same people who say, you know, this guy's a socialist. I think it's now about a third of Americans who -- and overwhelmingly Republicans, who say he wasn't born in the country, people who want to say that he favors whites over blacks in terms of what the Justice Department is doing with the New Black Panther Party. It's about reparations for slavery.

I think these are people who are uncomfortable with a black president or uncomfortable with his policies. They don't like Barack Obama.

WALLACE: But why would it be growing -- why would it be growing? I mean, he's been in office a year and a half. Would you think that people would have more of a sense...

WILLIAMS: I don't know if you noticed, but his approval ratings have been sinking. And as his approval ratings have been sinking, I think more people feel, you know, absolutely unleashed in terms of their criticism.

And I think the stuff that's coming from the right wing, from Rush Limbaugh and the like -- you know, Imam Obama and all that -- that has become...

WALLACE: Steve?

WILLIAMS: ... more (inaudible).

HAYES: Look, his approval ratings aren't sinking because people have the misunderstanding that he's a Muslim. His approval ratings are sinking because the economy is in the tank. That's, I think, the fundamental problem.

This is not because there's some concerted campaign to make him out to be the other, to make him out to be a Muslim. I think it has to do with people of -- generally of good faith who are misunderstanding the campaign that the White House has launched and run on a sustained way for 19 months of a presidency in outreach to the Muslim world.

* Contrary to Crowley and Sullivan's suggestion, more aggressive promotion of Obama's Christian faith may not be effective in reducing misperceptions about his religion. In research with Jason Reifler and undergraduate students at Duke (PDF), I found that the strategy of Obama presenting himself as a Christian appeared to make Republicans more likely to endorse the Muslim myth -- a finding that is consistent with the backfire effect Reifler and I found in previous research on correcting misperceptions (PDF).

[Cross-posted to brendan-nyhan.com and Huffington Post]


Senate in Play...Barely

Topics: 2010 , senate

Is the Democratic Senate majority in peril? A lot of political observers have been asking that question in recent weeks, and for good reason. As of today, polls show Republican candidates running clearly ahead in 4-5 Senate seats currently held by Democrats, with contests in another six Democratic Senate seats falling into our "toss-up" category -- relatively close races where the leader's margin is far from secure.

Control of the Senate will largely depend on the outcome of the toss-up races. The Republicans have a path to majority control, but it will require sweeping virtually all of the close races.

Today we begin what will soon be a regular daily feature on HuffPost's Pollster in which we review the day's polls and monitor their impact on our polling averages and trends. We will be watching races for Senate, U.S. House and Governor, but for today I want to begin with an overview of the races for the U.S. Senate.

Let's first take a step back and consider the classic "horse race" poll question that we plot on our charts and use to assess where each race stands. The question usually asks voters to make a choice as if "the election were held today" and prompts with both the names and party affiliations of each candidate.

When voters are familiar with the competing candidates -- as they usually are a few days before the election -- the standard horse race question has proven to be an accurate and reliable measure of their preferences. However, when voters know some candidates but not all, that predictive accuracy of the vote question starts to erode, and the horserace results can be misleading. That scenario still exists in many Senate races, so there is still potential for shifting between now and November.

Currently, the Democratic Senate Caucus has 59 members: 57 elected as Democrats plus two independents (Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman). In order to be assured a majority, the Republicans would need to gain ten seats, since Vice President Biden would vote with the Democrats to break a 50-50 tie.

So based on the available public polling, how many seats would the Republicans gain "if the election were held today?" Let's use the Pollster.com trend estimates (based on all available polling data) to consider voter preferences in the competitive races in Senate seats currently held by Democrats.

2010-08-24-Blumenthal-SenateDemSeats.png

Republican candidates currently hold huge leads in four states currently represented by the Democrats (North Dakota, Arkansas, Indiana and Delaware), and in a fifth (Pennsylvania) Pat Toomey leads by just slightly more than five percentage points (45.7% to 40.6%). Using the categorizations system we applied in 2008, we classify all five of these states as strongly or leaning Republican.

What should concern Democrats even more, however, is that polling yields closer "toss-up" margins in another six states currently represented by Democratic Senators -- Colorado, Wisconsin, Washington, Illinois, California and Nevada. Of course, Republicans would need to win five of the six and prevail in two similarly close contests in states currently represented by Republicans (Florida and Kentucky) to gain control of the senate.

2010-08-24-Blumenthal-SenateRepSeats.png

The "toss-up" label above may overstate the degree uncertainty "if the election were held today" in some of the contests. In Nevada, for example, four of the five polls conducted in the last month show Harry Reid with small, nominal leads of 1 to 4 percentage points. Recent polling in California shows a similar pattern favoring Democrat Barbara Boxer.

We will soon unveil a more granular system of classifying each race. But for now, our older classification scheme helps put these results into the context of recent history. The lesson is that a lead of two or three percentage points in late August can be fleeting.

In late August 2006, it certainly looked like Democrats faced an "uphill fight" to win control of the Senate. At the time, Republican candidates led by low single digit margins on most polls conducted in Missouri and Virginia (the latter conducted just after George Allen's infamous "Macaca" moment), yet Democrats Claire McCaskill and Jim Webb went on to gain support during the campaign and win their respective races. Democratic Senate candidates also gained significantly on their Republican opponents during the fall campaign in New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Washington.

Four years ago, our similarly constructed assessments of the Senate polling as of early September added up to 50 seats held by Republicans or at least leaning that way, 46 seats held or leaning to the Democrats, and four toss-ups. Yet the Democrats ultimately gained enough support to over the course of the fall campaign to win the 51 seats necessary to gain control of the Senate.

Compare the 50 to 46 Republican advantage at this point in 2006 to the current standings: Right now, we show 48 states currently represented by Republicans or at least leaning that way in this year's elections (including Lieberman and Sanders), 45 states held by or at least leaning Republican and seven states in the toss-up column.

None of this argues that Republicans will see gains over the next two months comparable to what Democrats experienced in the fall of 2006, only that the possibility exists. For now a Republican takeover does not look probable, but we certainly cannot rule it out.

[Cross-posted to the Huffington Post]


Lights, Camera, 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Jeff Jones explores the link between enthusiasm and turnout.

Chris Good offers a "cheat sheet" for tomorrow's primaries.

Jim Geraghty says the Democrats have 105 seats to defend in November.

Andrew Gelman, Jeffrey Lax and Justin Phillips track a the growing support for gay marriage.

John Fund profiles Scott Rasmussen.

Marist finds a plurality of Americans say acting as their dream job.


US: Generic Ballot (Gallup, Rasmussen 8/16-22)

Topics: National , poll

National

Gallup
8/16-22/10; 1,600 registered voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Gallup release)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
47% Republican, 44% Democrat (chart)


Rasmussen
8/16-22/10; 3,500 likely voters, 2% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
47% Republican, 38% Democrat (chart)


TX: 49% Perry, 41% White (Rasmussen 8/22)

Topics: poll , Texas

Rasmussen
8/22/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Texas

2010 Governor
49% Perry (R), 41% White (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Rick Perry: 61 / 37
Bill White: 50 / 41

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. obama: 34 / 65
Gov. Perry: 55 / 45


WV: 54% Manchin, 32% Raese (MindField 7/26-8/2)

Topics: poll , West Virginia

R.L.Repass & Partners / MindField
7/26-8/2/10; 268 likely voters, 6% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(R.L. Repass release)

West Virginia

2010 Senate
54% Manchin (D), 32% Raese (R)

2010 Governor: Special Election (if Manchin elected to Senate)
43% Moore Capito (R), 29% Tomblin (D)
44% Moore Capito (R), 29% Thompson (D)
44% Moore Capito (R), 32% Perdue (D)
40% Moore Capito (R), 37% Tennant (D)
34% Tomblin (D), 26% Ireland (R)
32% Thompson (D), 28% Ireland (R)
37% Perdue (D), 27% Ireland (R)
44% Tennant (D), 24% Ireland (R)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Joe Manchin: 74 / 21

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 32 / 51
Gov. Manchin: 65 / 20


HI: 49% Abercrombie, 44% Hannemann (Star-Advertiser 8/10)

Topics: Hawaii , poll

Ward Research for Honolulu Star-Advertiser / Hawaii News Now
8/10/10; 425 likely Democratic primary voters, 4.8% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Star-Advertiser story)

Hawaii

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
49% Abercrombie, 44% Hannemann


US: National Survey (ARG 8/17-20)

Topics: National , poll

American Research Group
8/17-20/10; 1,100 adults, 2.6% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(ARG release)

National

Obama Job Approval
43% Approve, 51% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 87 / 6 (chart)
Reps: 5 / 89 (chart)
Inds: 36 / 60 (chart)
Economy: 41% Approve, 54% Disapprove (chart)


AR: 53% Beebe, 33% Keet (Rasmussen 8/18)

Topics: Arkansas , poll

Rasmussen
8/18/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Arkansas

2010 Governor
53% Beebe (D), 33% Keet (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Jim Keet: 46 / 29
Mike Beebe: 67 / 28

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 31 / 69
Gov. Beebe: 72 / 26


AL: 60% Shelby, 28% Barnes (Rasmussen 8/19)

Topics: Alabama , poll


Rasmussen
8/19/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Alabama

2010 Senate
60% Shelby (R), 28% Barnes (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Richard Shelby: 68 / 24
William Barnes: 34 / 31

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 37 / 61
Gov. Riley: 56 / 42


WA: 52% Rossi, 45% Murray (SurveyUSA 8/18-19)

Topics: poll , Washington

SurveyUSA
8/18-19/10; 618 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(SurveyUSA release)

Washington

2010 Senate
52% Rossi (R), 45% Murray (D) (chart)


FL: 2010 Primaries (Quinnipiac 8/21-22)

Topics: Florida , poll

Quinnipiac
8/21-22/10; 771 likely Republican primary voters, 3.5% margin of error
757 likely Democratic primary voters, 3.6% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)

Florida

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
39% McCollum, 35% Scott (chart)

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
39% Meek, 29% Greene, 3% Ferre (chart)


FL: 2010 Gov and Sen Primaries (PPP 8/21-22)

Topics: florida , governor , poll , Primary elections , senate

Public Policy Polling (D)
8/21-22/10; 304 likely Republican Primary voters, 5.6% margin of error
324 likely Democratic primary voters, 5.4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

Florida

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
47% Scott, 40% McCollum (chart)

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
51% Meek, 27% Greene, 5% Burkett, 4% Ferre (chart)


FL: 2010 Gov and Sen Primaries (Mason-Dixon 8/17-19)

Topics: Florida , Governor , poll , Primary elections , Senate

Mason-Dixon for the Miami Herald, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, Tampa Tribune, Florida Gannett Newspapers and the Florida NBC television affiliates
8/17-19/10; 500 likely Republican Primary voters, 4.5% margin of error
500 likely Democratic primary voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Mason-Dixon release)

Florida

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
45% McCollum, 36% Scott, 4% McAlister (chart)

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
42% Meek, 30% Greene, 4% Ferre, 1% Burkett (chart)


 

MAP - US, AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY, PR